Bell, California Government Not Much Different From The Mob

In Bell, California—America's Most Corrupt Little Town—the corruption revelations never cease, ever! Today: the City of Bell operated a protection racket on city businesses, stealing money at will. Nice work, guys.

The ongoing investigation of the town's insane municipal practices (used to pay unbelievably lavish salaries to top city officials) has turned up this nice tidbit, via the LA Times: the city essentially just demanded that random businesses hand over thousands of dollars, with flimsy, illegal justifications.

In some cases, merchants were directed to make thousands of dollars in annual payments as part of conditional use permits granted by the city. Others were required to guarantee thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue for the city each year. If their sales failed to measure up to projections, they were told to pay the difference, according to city records and interviews.

This is actually not legal! We're talking small businesses, like a tire shop that was forced to pay nearly $150k over four years. That's even worse than the municipal taxes they raised on all the other residents of the poor (literally) city, to pay for the city manager's $1 million-plus pay package. Jerks.

[LAT. Pic: AP]